Insights into Editorial: Bring all Naga groups on board
The deadline set by the Centre for wrapping up the Naga peace talks, October 31.
While the Centre’s interlocutor and now Nagaland’s Governor, R N Ravi, has stressed that the government intends to meet the deadline, some key issues remain unresolved with the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah), or NSCN(I-M).
Even as the stalemate in Naga talks continues, the Centre is sticking to its October 31 deadline towards finding a solution to the decades old Naga political problem.
- The ethnic conflict in Nagaland, is an ongoing conflict fought between the ethnic Nagas and the governments of India and Myanmar.
- Nagaland inhabited by the Nagas is located at the tri-junction border of India on the West and South, north and Myanmar on the East.
- The Nagas are not a single tribe, but an ethnic community that comprises several tribes who live in the state of Nagaland and its neighbourhood.
- Nagas belong to Indo-Mongoloid Family.
- Nagas claimed sovereignty on the basis of prior sovereign existence and differences, which is today expressed in terms of “uniqueness”.
- In 2015, the Centre signed a framework agreement with the NSCN(I-M).
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi described this as a “historic agreement” towards settling the “oldest insurgency” in India.
- This set the stage for the ongoing peace talks. In 2017, six other Naga armed outfits under the banned of the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) joined the talks.
- Currently , Muivah remains the senior-most Naga rebel leader. Isak died in 2016. In the NSCN(-K), its leader Khaplang died in 2018.
Greater Nagalim: Demand from the Naga groups:
The key demand of Naga groups has been a Greater Nagalim (sovereign statehood) i.e redrawing of boundaries to bring all Naga-inhabited areas in the Northeast under one administrative umbrella.
It includes various parts of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam and Myanmar as well.
The demand also includes the separate Naga Yezabo (Constitution) and Naga national flag.
It is a very sensitive issue, and the ball now is in the court of Government of India.
Now, there is a need of wanting a best solution at the earliest, but if the government wants the best for Nagas, they should give more time – not to create confusion or complications — but only if there are signs of a positive outcome.
Where does the territorial demand currently stand?
- In 2018, the official sources had said that the accord being finalised “does not change the boundary of states;
- Provides autonomous Naga territorial councils for Arunachal and Manipur;
- A common cultural body for Nagas across states;
- Specific institutions for state’s development, integration and rehabilitation of non-state Naga militia and the removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act”.
- The map of Greater Nagalim in the NSCN(IM) vision, on the other hand, covers a 1,20,000 sq km sprawl across the Northeast and Myanmar — the area of Nagaland state itself is only 16,527 sq km, a fraction of this vision.
- Amid the anxiety this has caused among citizens in neighbouring states, state governments have assured them that their respective states’ territorial integrity would not be compromised.
- Before the framework agreement, the Nagaland Assembly itself had endorsed the demand for “integration of all Naga-inhabited areas” as many as five times in December 1964, August 1970, September 1994, December 2003 and on July 27, 2015.
Way Forward to resolve the issue:
The history of Indo-Naga conflict shows that various past agreements have broken down due to different interpretations of the provisions by the parties at their convenience.
Nagas are culturally heterogeneous groups of different communities/tribes having a different set of problems from mainstream population.
In order to achieve the long-lasting solution, their cultural, historical and territorial extent must be taken into consideration.
Therefore, various recommendations described below can help to achieve long-lasting peace in the region.
- Providing autonomous Naga territorial councils for Arunachal and Manipur. Common cultural body for Nagas across states.
- Specific institutions for state’s development, integration and rehabilitation of non-state Naga militia. Removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
- A special status on the lines of Article 371-A will be explored for Naga areas outside Nagaland.
- A constitutional body to look into issues related to Nagas in their whole territorial spread.
Therefore, any arrangement to be worked out should lead to social and political harmony, economic prosperity and protection of the life and property of all tribes and citizens of the states.